One of the greatest soccer players of all-time has a new home — as unbelievable as that sounds.
Lionel Messi, the man who brought Spanish giants Barcelona to new heights on the European and world stage, has agreed to a two-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) of France’s Ligue 1 — the country’s top-flight league.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner, awarded to the player voted best in the world, arrived in Paris on Tuesday where he and PSG will put the finishing touches on a two-year deal that will pay him roughly $34.6 million per year after taxes.
The world of soccer was rocked to its core when Barcelona announced that it could not afford to sign the Argentinian to a new contract, which would have brought him back for a 22nd year with the club. A visibly upset Messi revealed at a news conference on Sunday that he wanted to stay with Barcelona — that was the expectation when his contract expired on June 30 — and even agreed to a 50% pay cut, but the Catalan side could not even fit that sum in its books because they were unable to move other swollen contracts from hits payroll.
Due to constraints made by La Liga, Barcelona’s salary cap dropped from over $700 million in 2019-20 to approximately $235 million for the upcoming 2021-22 campaign.
PSG was not the only club that was interested in acquiring the four-time Champions League winner, Messi himself revealed.
“There is no doubt that I will go to a team that will compete with Barca,” Messi said. “I didn’t want to leave, but I have to. And I want to keep winning. That’s my mentality. I want to win.”
So is customary for one of the most decorated players in soccer history, winning La Liga 10 times, the Copa del Ray seven times, the Spanish Super Cup eight times, and the UEFA Super Cup three times.
He joins a PSG side that sees him reunite with former Barcelona teammate and Brazilian talisman, Neymar, along with the young French wonderkid in Kylian Mbappe, who rose to prominence during his country’s triumph at the 2018 World Cup.
PSG has won Ligue 1 seven times since 2013 but have yet to reach the pinnacle of European glory that is a Champions League title.